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New England Poll:

  • Northern New England residents are more likely to identify with their region than southern New England residents.
  • Climate and geography are found to be the most unique features of the region.
  • State residents differ in their identity and knowledge of the New England region.
  • New Englanders are more optimistic about the country's economy than the state economies.
  • Support for same-sex civil unions and the death penalty, but opposition toward the war in Iraq.
(Released: May 20, 2004)

About the Poll:

The New England Poll was conducted by telephone from March 11 through March 24, 2004 with a sample of 1,203 residents of New England. This press release focuses on state divisions in addition to the divisions among the northern and southern states of New England. Margin of error for the 1,203 residents of New England is +/-2.83%. Margin of error for Northern New England is +/-4.62%. Margin of error for Southern New England is +/-3.6%. The full report and listing of all questions is available at www.csra.uconn.edu

The Center for Survey Research and Analysis at the University of Connecticut conducted a survey of New England residents on regional issues. The survey is a re-evaluation of the 1996 survey of New England residents "The Spirit of New England."

Both surveys focused on the characteristics, communities, politics, and recreational activities of the residents of New England. In addition, the 2004 survey measured environmental concerns, consumer sentiment, charitable tendencies, and societal issues of New Englanders.

Regional Identity

A strong majority (87%) of New England residents identify themselves as "New Englanders." Residents of the northern New England states are more likely to consider themselves to be New Englanders than southern New England residents (92% compared to 86%). This compares to a recent study of southern United States residents that found three-quarters (74%) of the residents of the southern states of the country consider themselves to be "Southerners." The partner poll was conducted by the University of North Florida.

"New England residents show a strong sense of regional identity. They really feel they are New Englanders," said Chris Barnes, associate director of the center.

The climate and geography of New England remains the most distinguishing aspect of New England according to residents. There has been a significant drop in the proportion of people who consider the culture or the quality of life to be the most unique thing about New England since the 1996 study. In the previous study, twenty-two percent (22%) of New Englanders identified this as the most unique feature about New England compared to only nine percent (9%) today.

Almost two-thirds (63%) of the residents were able to correctly identify the states in New England. Massachusetts was the most recalled state (90%), while Rhode Island was the state mentioned least often (80%) by those living in New England.

"Despite the strong sense of belonging residents feel, their geography is a little weak and a significant number can't name all of the New England states correctly," noted Barnes.

Connecticut residents were the best at geography with sixty-two percent (62%) correctly identifying the states in the region even though they were the least likely to call themselves New Englanders (84%). Residents of Maine are most likely to consider themselves New Englanders (95%) but least likely (56%) to correctly identify the states of the region.

Economic Optimism

Overall, New Englanders are more optimistic about the country's economy than they are about their state economies. Forty-eight percent (48%) of New Englanders think the economy in the country will get better over the next four years compared to forty-one percent (41%) who say the same about their state's economy.

Republicans and Republican-leaners are more likely than Democrats and Democratic-leaners, and independents to think the economy in the country will improve over the next four years. Fifty-eight percent (58%) of Republicans and Republican-leaners believe the economy will get better compared to forty-three percent (43%) of Democrats and Democratic-leaners, and forty-six percent (46%) of independents. Moreover, Democrats and Democratic-leaners are more likely to think the economy will get worse over the next four years. Eighteen percent (18%) of Democrats and Democratic-leaners believe the country's economy will get worse over the next four years compared to eight percent (8%) of Republicans and Republican-leaners, and eleven percent (11%) of independents.

Same-Sex Marriages and Civil Unions

Although half (50%) of all New Englanders oppose same-sex marriages, 46% of New Englanders support same-sex marriages. Not surprisingly there are significant differences among levels of support for same-sex marriages for New Englanders. Forty-three percent (43%) of New Englanders who live in the southern states of New England support same-sex marriages while only 37% of northern New Englanders support the same concept.

Among the six New England states, Massachusetts has the highest support for same-sex marriage with almost half (49%) of Massachusetts residents support same-sex marriages. However almost the same number of Massachusetts residents oppose same-sex marriages (47%). Maine and New Hampshire have the lowest support for same-sex marriages at a little over one-third (36%) while 60% oppose it.

Major differences were found between New Englanders and residents in the southern United States in opinions about same-sex marriages. A partner poll by the Florida Center for Public Policy at the University of North Florida found an overwhelming majority of Southerners (69%) oppose same-sex marriages.

Civil unions are overwhelmingly supported regardless of the division of northern and southern New England or by state. Seventy percent (70%) of New Englanders support a law that would create civil unions giving people some of the rights of married people such as inheritance laws and hospital visiting privileges with less than one-quarter (24%) in opposition.

Massachusetts, the state with the most support for same-sex marriages is also the state with the greatest support for civil unions. Almost three-quarters (74%) of Massachusetts residents support a law that would create civil unions.

Iraq War

Fifty-one percent (51%) of New Englanders oppose President Bush's decision to go to war in Iraq in March of 2003.

Majority support for the Iraq war can only be found for New Englanders who are Republicans and those who lean towards the Republican Party (63%). Only 29% of independents and 11% of Democrats and Democratic-leaners also support the war in Iraq.

Other issues:

  • Death Penalty

Well over half (59%) of New Englanders support the death penalty for defendants convicted of murder, (40% strongly and 19% somewhat) while a little over one-third (34%) of New England residents oppose the death penalty.

  • Abortions

A majority of New Englanders (53%) think abortions should be legal only under certain circumstances, while almost one-third (32%) think abortions should be legal under any circumstances. However a marginal number of New Englanders (13%) think abortions should be illegal under all circumstances.

  • Public Education

Fifty-eight percent (58%) of New Englanders agree with the statement that New England has better public education than other parts of the country while 30% of New Englanders disagree.

National Economy

All New England Residents

 

Get Better
%

Get Worse
%

Stay About the Same

DK/Ref

Mar. 11-24 2004

48

14

28

10

Connecticut Residents

 

Get Better
%

Get Worse
%

Stay About the Same

DK/Ref

Mar. 11-24 2004

49

17

27

7

Massachusetts Residents

 

Get Better
%

Get Worse
%

Stay About the Same

DK/Ref

Mar. 11-24 2004

47

12

28

12

Maine Residents

 

Get Better
%

Get Worse
%

Stay About the Same

DK/Ref

Mar. 11-24 2004

47

12

32

9

New Hampshire Residents

 

Get Better
%

Get Worse
%

Stay About the Same

DK/Ref

Mar. 11-24 2004

54

14

20

12

Rhode Island Residents

 

Get Better
%

Get Worse
%

Stay About the Same

DK/Ref

Mar. 11-24 2004

46

17

30

6

Vermont Residents

 

Get Better
%

Get Worse
%

Stay About the Same

DK/Ref

Mar. 11-24 2004

42

22

29

7

Republican and Republican Leaners

 

Get Better
%

Get Worse
%

Stay About the Same

DK/Ref

Mar. 11-24 2004

58

8

30

4

Democrats and Democratic Leaners

 

Get Better
%

Get Worse
%

Stay About the Same

DK/Ref

Mar. 11-24 2004

43

18

26

13

Independents

 

Get Better
%

Get Worse
%

Stay About the Same

DK/Ref

Mar. 11-24 2004

46

11

30

13

State Economy

All New England Residents

 

Get Better
%

Get Worse
%

Stay About the Same

DK/Ref

Mar. 11-24 2004

41

12

40

6

Connecticut Residents

 

Get Better
%

Get Worse
%

Stay About the Same

DK/Ref

Mar. 11-24 2004

43

16

36

5

Massachusetts Residents

 

Get Better
%

Get Worse
%

Stay About the Same

DK/Ref

Mar. 11-24 2004

43

11

38

7

Maine Residents

 

Get Better
%

Get Worse
%

Stay About the Same

DK/Ref

Mar. 11-24 2004

28

19

50

3

New Hampshire Residents

 

Get Better
%

Get Worse
%

Stay About the Same

DK/Ref

Mar. 11-24 2004

51

3

40

6

Rhode Island Residents

 

Get Better
%

Get Worse
%

Stay About the Same

DK/Ref

Mar. 11-24 2004

33

10

52

4

Vermont Residents

 

Get Better
%

Get Worse
%

Stay About the Same

DK/Ref

Mar. 11-24 2004

38

13

44

5

Republicans and Republican Leaners

 

Get Better
%

Get Worse
%

Stay About the Same

DK/Ref

Mar. 11-24 2004

48

10

39

3

Democrats and Democratic Leaners

 

Get Better
%

Get Worse
%

Stay About the Same

DK/Ref

Mar. 11-24 2004

39

15

39

8

Independents

 

Get Better
%

Get Worse
%

Stay About the Same

DK/Ref

Mar. 11-24 2004

42

10

43

5

All New England residents

 

Yes
%

No
%

DK/Ref
%

Mar. 11-24 2004

87

12

1

Northern New England Residents

 

Yes
%

No
%

DK/Ref
%

Mar. 11-24 2004

92

8

0

Southern New England Residents

 

Yes
%

No
%

DK/Ref
%

Mar. 11-24 2004

86

14

1

Southern U.S. Residents

 

Yes
%

No
%

DK/Ref
%

Feb. 9-18 2004

74

25

1

Identity and Knowledge of New England

 

ME
%

VT
%

NH
%

RI
%

MA
%

CT
%

Identify Self as New Englander

Mar. 11-24 2004

95

93

89

89

86

84

Identify Six States in New Englander

Mar. 11-24 2004

54

59

67

61

65

62

What makes New England Unique?

 

Climate/ Geography
%

People
%

History
%

Culture
%

Spirit of New England

Feb. 16-29 1996

38

17

10

22

Regional Identity Study

Mar. 11-24 2004

36

22

13

9

May 2004 Releases
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